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Older Americans Act

The Older Americans Act (OAA), enacted in 1965, is the primary vehicle for services and funding in every state that support the dignity and welfare of individuals age 60 and older. These services include home-and-community based services; nutritional programs; health promotion and disease prevention activities for seniors; and programs that protect vulnerable seniors, such as the long-term care ombudsman program.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is authorized under the Older Americans Act (Title VII, Chapter 2, Sections 711/712) and administered at the state level. It provides residents of long-term care facilities with access to effective advocacy in order to ensure that they receive the quality of care and quality of life they deserve and are entitled to by law.

 

2016 Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act


President Obama Signed the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2016.

The bill will help older adults age with independence and dignity in their homes and communities, and protect elders in long-term care facilities and other settings.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is authorized under the Older Americans Act and administered at the state level. It provides residents of long-term care facilities with access to effective advocacy in order to ensure that they receive the quality of care and quality of life they deserve and are entitled to by law.

Reauthorization strengthens and improves this program’s effectiveness. It clarifies both organizational and individual conflicts of interest within the program; improves resident access to ombudsmen; better protects the confidentiality of ombudsman information; ensures that State Ombudsmen receive ongoing training; and permits ombudsmen, when feasible, to continue to serve residents transitioning from a long-term care facility to a home care setting.

Read the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2016 here.

Information regarding the recent reauthorization of the Older Americans Act is now available on the ACL website. Click here to find the official compilation, frequently asked questions, summary of changes, and more.

Note: Click here to read the amended FAQ regarding Ombudsman programs and conflicts of interest (ACL amended this response with additional details on 9/28/16).

Highlights of changes related to the LTCOP, elder abuse, and the funding formula for Titles III B, C & D are below.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

  • Authorizes Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman programs to serve all LTC facility residents, regardless of their age. 711(6)
  • Clarifies that the state LTC Ombudsman is responsible for the fiscal management of the Office of the State LTC Ombudsman. 712(a)(2)
  • Clarifies that LTC Ombudsman programs may work to resolve complaints on behalf of residents unable to communicate their wishes, including those lacking an authorized representative. 712(a)(3)(A)(i)& (a)(5)(vi)
  • Requires state LTC Ombudsmen to ensure that residents have private, unimpeded access to the program. 712(a)(3)(D)
  • Requires LTC Ombudsman programs to actively encourage, and assist in the development of, resident and family councils in long-term care facilities. 712(a)(3)(H)(iii) & (a)(5)(vii)
  • Authorizes LTC Ombudsman programs to serve residents transitioning from a LTC facility to a home-care setting, when feasible. 712(a)(3)(I)
  • Clarifies that the LTC Ombudsman program is considered a “health oversight agency” for purposes of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 712(b)(3)
  • Applies OAA disclosure provisions to all LTC Ombudsman program information (rather than only “files and records”) and clarifies exceptions for disclosure of information relating to residents unable to communicate their wishes, including those lacking an authorized representative. 712(d)(2)(c)
  • Provides specific examples of individual and organizational conflicts of interest, requiring remediation or removal of such conflicts. 712(f)
  • Requires that each state LTC Ombudsman or his/her designee participate in training provided by the National Ombudsman Resource Center. 712(h)(4)
  • Requires the Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs to collect and analyze promising practices related to responding to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in long-term care facilities. 201(d)(3)(M)

Elder Abuse

  • Updates definitions of “adult protective services,” “abuse,” “exploitation and financial exploitation,” and “elder justice” to be consistent with the Elder Justice Act. 102(1),(3), (17)&(18)
  • Promotes best practices for responding to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in long-term care facilities through the Administration on Aging. 201(d)(3)(M)
  • Promotes states’ submission of data concerning elder abuse. 102(3)(A); 721(b)(5)
  • Directs the Administration on Aging to include, as appropriate, training on elder justice, including abuse prevention and screening, for states, area agencies on aging, and service providers. 202(d)(4)(g)
  • Requires area plans to include efforts to increase public awareness of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. 306(a)(6)(H)

Funding Formula for Titles III B, C & D

  • No state shall be allotted less than: 99% of the allotment for the previous year for each of FY2017-FY2019, or 100% of the FY2019 allotment for FY2020 and each subsequent fiscal year. 304(a)(3)(D)

Click here to read more information about how the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provisions in the Older Americans Act will better protect residents of long-term care facilities.


Why is the Older Americans Act Important?


Long-term care consumers benefit greatly from provisions included in the Older Americans Act. This law assists LTC consumers by: 

Helping to Promote Home and Community-Based Long-Term Care Services for Older Americans to Prevent or Delay the Need for Institutional Care: The OAA funds a range of home and community-based services for older Americans, including assisted transport services, home-delivered nutrition services, homemaker and chore services and transportation.

Helping to Educate Older Americans on Their Long-Term Care Options and Benefits: The OAA provides formula funding to states and Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) for the purpose of providing information and assistance on long-term care options to older adults and caregivers. The law also authorizes Benefits Counseling programs in each state that assist older individuals, their family members and/or caregivers in applying for benefits and services, understanding their rights, exercising choice and maintaining their rights in solving disputes.

Protecting Elderly Long-Term care Consumers: The OAA requires each state to have a long-term care ombudsman program.Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of long-term care facilities. They work to resolve problems of individual residents and to bring about improvement in resident care and quality of life at the facility, local, state and national levels.

Combating Elder Abuse: The OAA combats the prevalence of elder abuse by providing states with grants to conduct elder justice activities (such as strengthening civil and criminal enforcement in court cases impacting older individuals and the creation of State Working Groups to enhance the coordination of federal, state, and local entitites on elder abuse issues), administering elder abuse prevention programs, and funding the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Supporting Family Caregivers: The OAA provides funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program and the Native American Caregiver Support Program. These programs assist individuals that serve as unpaid caregivers for persons sixty or older and also grandparents that serve as primary caregivers for grandchildren or other related children living in the grandparent's home.

Providing Access to Legal Services: The OAA helps provide legal services for the elderly through grants designed to help states intergrate low cost service mechanisms - such as senior legal helplines -  into state legal service systems. The law also provides funding to Area Agencies on Aging for the purpose of providing legal services to the elderly. 

 

Useful Resources & Links


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